Saturday, July 26, 2008

Myanmar taking cut of cyclone aid from UNDP and other Development Agencies

After an investigation of Inner-City-Press during the month of June 2008, today U.N. officials admitted that the Myanmar government is using its foreign exchange regulations to take a cut of the humanitarian and development aid being sent for Cyclone Nargis victims.

Burma exiles say the military junta is, in effect, taking a 20 percent cut off the top from cash assistance.

The government requires that all foreign currency brought into Myanmar be converted into what are called foreign exchange certificates, with a value set at parity with the U.S. dollar. But the certificates, when converted to kyat, trade at about 80 cents or less.

While agencies like WFP have nothing to fear, since they bring aid inside country in forms of goods, other UN agencies which deal with longer term development and deals exclusively with the government are directly affected. In effect, sources close to RBAP (Regional Bureau for Asia Pacific of UNDP) say that: - "Junta is taxing any aid that comes into the country as cash - and we have been dealing with this from long ago". "Myanmar is a similar situation as in North Korea" - that source says.

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